[GRASS5] Talking about an umbrella GFOSS foundation

Markus Neteler neteler at itc.it
Fri Jan 13 09:15:07 EST 2006

Dear GRASS Community,

some of you will have followed the discussions about the
"Open Letter to the MapServer community" and the announcement
of the creation of the MapServer Foundation (mapserverfoundation.org).
For details please refer to the mailing list archives [1] and [2].

Apparently there has been a debate as well about the strategy
and future mission of this foundation. In particular, if other
GIS FOSS related projects should be involved or not.
In the GRASS mailing lists the idea of creating a sort of GRASS
foundation was as far as I know not discussed widely. However,
there have been discussions at various meetings (international
such as Trento 2002, Bangkok 2004 and also some national GRASS

Personally I see a need for a sort of institutionalization
of our project to become more independent from single persons
and institutions. I feel that establishing a corpus for fund
raising/re-investment and other good things a foundation could
do (see Mapserver related pages from Tyler Mitchell [3]), is needed
to move forward. As you all know, there are a couple of successful
FOSS foundations out there (Apache, PostgreSQL, R-stats, ...).

The idea of a GRASS Foundation is not new [4] and it was
even in a sense successful as the OGF became the today's
OGC. However, it makes sense to talk about a wider *umbrella*
foundation to better serve the communities of the various
GIS related projects. A first attempt for "growing together"
was the decision in 2004 to merge the GRASS & Mapserver
conferences (FOSS4G 2006, Lausanne). Then, in November 2005,
the Mapserver Foundation was born - initially dedicated to
Mapserver only. Recently, the involved people decided to open
this foundation to other projects as well [5], and also to 
rename it [6], [2].

Like a few other core team members of GIS FOSS projects, I
was contacted two days ago to participate in an upcoming
meeting in the beginning February where this "opening up"
or "reconstructing" of such a foundation will be discussed.
As far as I understood (!), the current Mapserver Foundation
is not yet formally established.

The basic question is now if the GRASS project wants to
make part of general purpose "GIS FOSS umbrella foundation"
(with whatever name then).

I am interested to participate in the meeting and see
how things evolve and which role the GRASS project already
plays or may play. To me it looks like an important strategic
issue to be present there - a big "GIS FOSS umbrella foundation"
without GRASS would be somewhat strange.

What do you think?

Best regards


[1] http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.gis.mapserver.user/15262
[2] Mapserverfoundation.org: 
[3] http://mapserver.gis.umn.edu/community/foundation/background
[4] Historically:
    * Open GRASS Foundation (OGF) related:
    * European GRASS Foundation (EGF) related:

[5] http://lists.mapserverfoundation.org/pipermail/discuss/2005-December/000211.html
    (open up the planned meeting)
[6] http://lists.mapserverfoundation.org/pipermail/discuss/2005-December/000216.html
    (naming of foundation)

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